Superhero Hop 2019 Race Report

As we are at the halfway point through the year, and it has been a few months to let all the details of the Superhero Hop 5k and Kids Run settle down, it is time to publish the race report. It’s not very exciting reading, but if anyone is invested in the race and wants to know more about what all went into the planning and execution of it, as well as the aftermath, this is for you. Any personal and sensitive data for use in planning next year’s event has been omitted.

I hope those who participated, volunteered, sponsored, donated and were otherwise involved had a great experience and will consider being involved again at next year’s race. The improvements planned will hopefully make the experience an even better one for you than this year. As always, any suggestions or comments are welcome to continue improving and making the event the best it can be. In the end, the race belongs to everyone involved and input is much appreciated. Thanks again to everyone who has helped make this dream a reality, especially those who were part of the event, and for those who took a leap of faith and registered for a first year event! Have a great summer y’all and hope to see you next year!

NOTE: We were able to donate a total of $1,200.00 to Prevent Child Abuse Utah! Great work everyone!!!

Superhero Hop 5k and Kids Run

A fundraiser to benefit Prevent Child Abuse Utah

April 20, 2019

Introduction

With the race benefiting the charity, and in the instance that Run the Last Mile was not able to sponsor the race next year for any reason, the primary goal of this report is to be able to hand over all the information to the charity so they would be able to continue the race if they so choose. They could also learn from the mistakes I had made. The secondary goal is to inform those invested in the race if anyone were interested, what went into it, what the result was, and improvements recommended for the next year.

Vision

The idea to do a 5k to benefit Prevent Child Abuse Utah came back in 2012 when volunteering for the organization. I saw that other states had done 5k fundraisers for PCA, however this had not been done in Utah. I asked the organization why they had not done this yet, and they said there were some initial talks at the organization of putting one together, but nothing solidified. I imagine that this was due to the organization having a lot on their plates already, as well as already having other fundraising events that they put on throughout the year to attend to.

I shelved the idea in my mind. After going to work for the state for DCFS, and attending all the training there, I couldn’t learn about all that and not do something to help “put my drop in the bucket.” It took a lot of years before it has happened, with just the idea growing. Primarily, I had envisioned the race taking place around Gib’s loop, a trail by Mt. Ogden Park, with the finish line at the park near the pavilion on the south side, a blue and white balloon arch for the finish line, and pinwheels in the ground marking the finish “chute.” This was really the only solid piece of the vision, aside from it taking place in April during the “Pinwheels for Prevention” campaign.

Starting point

Having never put a race together before, and only running in a handful of them. I sought to research how to do so online. My experience putting together fundraisers for an organization I am involved with served as a foundation to work from. In my mind, it was also like a project one would do for school, and as such, a learning experience.

Key people

As I did not have a team of people to work with, I reached out to fellow students in the social work department to find others who might be interested in working on this project with me. With little interest from anyone else, I reached out to friends in my community to begin putting the pieces together. I’ll just be open about it that the “contracting” of services was biased, as in I did not price out different vendors, compare prices, etc.  I went with friends who I knew I could rely on, and this became my “team.” With some key pieces in place (Amir Jackson & Amber Manning for DJ and emcees, Holly Morphet for the race logo, and Cameron Lloyd for the t-shirts), I had a foundation to build from. As the race was to benefit Prevent Child Abuse Utah, the idea was to do the leg work and they receive the funds as a fundraiser. Prevent Child Abuse Utah did not seek me out to do this work for them, nor were they involved with the planning, aside from being supportive of the goal of the race and willing to help with what they could.

Date

When looking at the date, the idea was to do the race in April during the Pinwheels for Prevention campaign that already takes place every year. This is when other states held their race events for the Prevent Child Abuse organizations in their states, as the Pinwheels for Prevention campaign is nation-wide. Amir Jackson and Amber Manning were the first ones I had sought to work with as DJ’s, so we picked a weekend that worked for them and also didn’t have any conflicting races already scheduled in the Ogden area. With so many theme races for holidays (Turkey trots, Santa runs, Halloween races, etc.), having it on Easter weekend also provided an opportunity for a holiday themed race, since it seems some runners enjoy these (myself included!).

Venue

The four different venues that were considered

  • Mount Ogden Park – with the Gib’s loop trail. In speaking with the Parks and Rec department, I had to first go through the city permitting with their special events coordinator. The race taking place in April would put it coinciding at the same time of AYSO soccer season, and therefore the park was not looking like a viable option.
  • Ogden High School track – with a course along the streets, and the start and finish in the track area. After initial email communications with the athletic director did not pan out, other venues were considered. In the future, it might be possible to communicate with the principle or the school district, however this was not attempted this time.
  • Lion’s Club Park – with the course taking place on a similar route to the Ogden High School track one that was drafted out. However, this would require portable toilets as the time of the race would have been in the off-season for parks and therefore the park’s restrooms would be locked still. This would have been an extra expense in addition to the cost of city permitting.
  • Weber State University – with the course on one of the routes they had already planned, due to having already hosted a number of races on the campus. This began to look like the best option as a number of things were already in place, and the possibility to use the campus facilities such as bathrooms, would potentially be the most cost effective.

Out of the four, Weber State was ultimately the best option for moving forward.

Goals

Primary – to benefit the organization, Prevent Child Abuse Utah and raise awareness about Preventing Child Abuse.

Secondary – to work within the local economy as much as possible and build community.

Business – Run the Last Mile

As payments were coming in through the registration page, and purchases were being made, the formality of establishing a business seemed like a good idea for accountability. This took place as quickly as possible, and therefore was not licensed as a non-profit organization with such little time. This has benefits (decisions can be made more quickly, losses can be written off, etc.), however, the business principles and practices would strive to serve as any non-profit type of charitable organization would. Creating a business was ultimately necessary for the credibility of requesting donations and sponsors, many of which required such requests to be on official letterhead. Having no real experience running a business, I relied upon past experiences working for other employers and small businesses.

Donation letter

With this being a fundraiser put together to benefit a charity, by a brand-new business with no real working capital to start with, requesting donations seemed appropriate to keep costs as low as possible. This also seemed like a natural course of action due to how past fundraisers had operated, or what other races seemed to be doing. In retrospect, the primary model I had based this race off of was the Nature Center’s Fly with the Flock 5k fun run, which was put on by the non-profit organization directly (as far as I’m aware). So I’m not sure how that works with a business that is not a non-profit requesting donations. I don’t believe there is anything explicitly prohibiting this action, and the donations were ultimately given away to the runners as prizes. The businesses who donated were aware if the purpose for the donations and were recognized, so it provided free advertising for them.

In requesting the donations, the goal was to give these out as the finish awards for the different age group category winners, as well as the overall race winners. This is what the letter said they were for, and this was the intention. With the race day approaching, and not enough awards collected for all the winners, as well as having varying dollar amounts that were not neatly categorized into 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place, the options I saw were purchase gift cards and figure out how to somehow make the dollar amounts fair somehow, or just raffle off the items and then come up with different awards. We ended up doing the latter.

Volunteer recruitment

A call for volunteers was posted and shared early on Facebook, however this received no replies.  Volunteer recruitment was also communicated on the race registration website. This also received no replies except through the OMS sponsoring organization. Ultimately, I relied upon an organization I am involved with to help with the majority of the volunteer work, which they did in a pinch, thankfully.

Advertising

Facebook provided the biggest return on investment for advertising statistically, as far as the registration website reported.

Posters displayed in community locations may have generated registrations, however I did not set up a way to track this, so I am unaware of results from this method of advertising.

I did submit the event info to the GO! section of the Standard Examiner newspaper, although I’m not sure if it got printed or not.

Packet pickup

There was no packet pickup planned but since Striders offered, we went ahead and held them there. In the future, Utah Running Shop also communicated they could host packet pickups. Note for future to be more prepared (safety pins bundled into groups of 4) and organized in advance (one idea – use manila envelopes to hold race info, bib, and swag bag items, then alphabetize in file boxes). There is also the idea to hold a raffle.

Race day recap

What went well

  • Donations
  • Turn out
  • T-shirts: Holly and Cameron
  • DJ’s
  • Photographer
  • Volunteer crew
  • Sponsors
  • No injuries
  • PCAU
  • Kids activities
  • Awards medals
  • Mailing out awards – in the future only to those who left early. I’ve placed in races before and have had to leave before the awards were given out and therefore never received them. I believe it is fair practice to mail out the awards and make sure they get to those who earned them.
  • WSU

Needs improvement

  • Timing system
  • Awards not given day of
  • Course marking
  • PCAU – involve in planning, say piece about mission before race starts
  • Coffee
  • Finish line
  • Race director – experience; put aside being shy/uncomfortable speaking in front of crowds & say something at start of race – especially course info!
  • Location

Post race survey

A brief survey was emailed to all race participants and received eight responses. Responses were reviewed and compiled in order to make improvements for next year.

Improvements and ideas for next year

  • Budget
  • More sponsors
  • Volunteer recruitment
  • Involve Nurture the Creative Mind and other youth organizations
  • Family Support Center – kid’s activities
  • Course markings
  • Christmas Box House drawings specific for race need advance notice
  • Participant medals VS awards
  • Donations as raffle items vs awards

(If awards, how to make equal with varying dollar values? Need earlier start to get enough for all age category awards, or limit age category awards?)

  • Candy for kid’s awards? Picture frames for awards? Work with photographer to have pictures available to mail out and put in frames?
  • Capes/masks? (Like Santa run)
  • Give out participant medals (or pins or frames or whatever end up using) as runners cross the finish line.
  • Virtual race option?
  • Gift bags for sponsors?
  • Recruit WSU or high school track team members to volunteer/help with finish line – timing
  • Improve finish line decorations
  • Make clear that participants can take pinwheels home that were used as course markings
  • Runsignup VS Raceentry registration website (Raceentry is local, Runsign up can carry over data from this year)
  • WSU social work department or the like – recruit support in the form of student volunteers to help with planning and getting donations and sponsors
  • Day of registration?
  • Recognition for returning runners
  • Swag bag
  • Packet pickup

Summary/conclusion

Overall, planning and executing this race was a big challenge that set a foundation to build from for the future. I have hope that Prevent Child Abuse Utah can learn from the mistakes I have made if they take on the race themselves next year, if they decided to continue such. The most challenging aspects of planning were estimating numbers of t-shirts, medals, pins, and food to order as the race registration was open up until the night before the race. Some races have day of registration, and I’m not sure how they plan for this, as having extras adds up monetarily. I’m part of a Facebook group for race directors that has a ton of information and advice about these types of issues to help learn best practices moving forward.

The event did not raise as money as I had hoped, but as a first event, it is a good start and can only get better each year. In planning the race, I looked to the Ogden Nature Center’s annual Fly with the Flock race as a primary example to follow. However, there are certainly other good races out there to gather ideas from. I’ve run the ONC race two years in a row now and I can say that they do a very good job at it. From what I know about runners, they can be very loyal to races they like. With the Nature Center 5k, that was the first 5k I ever completed, and I’ll go back every year to do that race. They even do recognition for runners who have come back yearly (I’m not sure on the exact, but something like 5 years, 10 years, etc.).

If a runner has a good experience, they are likely to return the next year. It seemed a bit much to have a DJ and all that for a first-year event. The costs for t-shirts and participant memorabilia was also a bit much. This was not to set a precedent necessarily, but to create a fun event from the start that people would want to come back to. It is my hope that there will be a good amount of return runners, and I believe the next year’s participants can grow to at least 300, although the stretch goal would then be 500. This year’s stretch goal was set at 300 and we reached just over 100.  

There is still a lot to learn, however some of the first mistakes from this year were hopefully fruitful. We didn’t have to deal with weather thankfully, but this would be a good thing to prepare for in advance for the future. Weather-proofing a race often adds more expenses so this should be factored in. Overall, it’s good to know that even if you plan everything out to the very smallest detail, there will always be something that does not go as planned. Live, learn and laugh because even as stressful as it is, there is still a lot of good that can come from it, and there’s always an opportunity to improve. For the most part, I have found runners are understanding that everyone is doing their best to make the event the best it can be for them.  

-KH, race director
Run the Last Mile

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Run the Last Mile Begins


At the end of the day, let there be no excuses, no explanations, no regrets.

-Steve Maraboli

Starting a new business is not for the feint of heart. Although, it does require a whole heart full of passion and drive. Run the Last Mile is born out of this kind of love and it just grows deeper every day. It is a love relationship with running and staying active, with giving back to my community, with working along side others for the greater good, and with becoming who my creator designed me to be. It’s about determination and not giving up, even when it gets hard. It’s about commitment, staying the course, and following through. It is about giving one’s best effort even when fatigued. And it’s about discipline, perseverance, motivation, dedication, resilience and grit. It’s about finishing strong and letting others know that even if you have stumbled for 99 miles, you’re going to run this last one to the finish and end on a positive note.

I have had a tendency in the past to start a bunch of projects then get distracted and not end up finishing hardly any of them. It doesn’t help that I’m an expansive thinker and big dreamer. I believe that dreams are placed in our hearts for a reason, however. We are on this earth to build and give back, and hopefully leave things a little better than we found them. My goal with this business is to build upon a foundation of service work, community building, and faith. Then to take all that passion and stay the course with it and follow through. That’s what running the last mile means to me. That at the end of the day, I did everything I could do to move forward in a positive way that benefits others and makes the world a better place.

The wonderful thing about just diving into an endeavor such as this is that there is no set course and plenty of room for ideas to take shape about what it could be. The thought to turn it into a non-profit organization is strongly there, it just seems really complicated and I know nothing about the process. When I think about what Run the Last Mile as a non-profit might look like, and how it might serve the community, the mentoring model comes to mind. I’ve had a heart for helping at-risk youth since way back when I was one myself. In fact, much of this business effort is the result of a mentor relationship. A person who believed in me, and in staying active, who shared a tiny piece of his life as a runner with me. I had been struggling and he helped me turn my life around and it really is just as simple as that. But that simple thing sparked something greater (often intangible), and the best way I can keep that spark alive is to share it with others. What if someone could do for another what this person did for me. What if I could help someone like he had helped me? What if a whole team of people could work towards this goal of making a positive difference? What kind of impact in our community could that have?

There are plenty of mentoring organizations out there already though, how would Run the Last Mile fill in any gaps or be different? I’m thinking about those youth who are not involved in sports and then maybe pair them with a seasoned runner to learn the sport and see if anything positive develops. Sports are such a great outlet for emotional processing that often comes with being a young person in an ‘at-risk’ situation. Not to mention how sports and the many positive qualities that result from participating in them serve as preventative medicine and positive coping models for so many challenges later in life. Not every kid is going to have the means to join a team, or for whatever reason not get involved in organized sports. What if there were a way to get those kids involved through a different avenue?

In my own life, I have never been athletically skilled (and therefore motivated) to try out and make any formal teams. If I’m honest, I never really saw the benefits that doing so would bring. In my family, sports were not something valued much and there was no history of anyone being very athletic. For me, it was a recreational pursuit at best, in the form of youth and club teams. But I do know that in my life as a recreational athlete, even on a club team with the right coach this can have a very positive impact in one’s life. It has in mine. I’m certainly not in any position to be that coach for this endeavor (I’m new to running and truly know very little about it). However, the idea is there, and if the right people are interested, I’m here and committed to seeing the project through. It would be specifically geared towards sharing the joy of running, since that is the original spark of the sports mentor model that I’m driven to share, pass on, and keep alive.

Those are some of my thoughts and vision for Run the Last Mile if it were to take a turn into the non-profit world in the future. For me, as a business model a non-profit just makes a whole lot more sense in my life, my heart, and what I have to offer. The only thing is just learning how to build one and I know there are plenty of resources out there to do so. It starts with an idea though, and putting yourself out there. So here it is, a tiny little seed. Who knows what could come of it? Hopefully good and positive things. Ok, enough dreaming, back to race organization work. Hope everyone has a great rest of the week!

-kh